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Island Fire Commissioner Cox resigns after 16 years

By PAULETTE LeBLANC - | Sep 9, 2020

Ken Cox. PHOTO PROVIDED

pleblanc@breezenewspapers.com

After 16 years, Fire Commissioner Ken Cox has resigned from the Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Control District. At 74 he says he needed to begin spending time with his grandchildren in North Carolina as well as close family currently dealing with health issues.

Although he was also a real estate broker, Cox said he was pretty active with the fire department even before being on the board.

“We went through a rough cycle from the 1990s until about 2010,” said Cox. “Money was hard to get, firefighters were anxious to move on if they couldn’t be paid enough, and we had disputes with management. It is definitely rewarding times now.”

He said a great deal of the reason he’d wanted to be on the board to begin with was to make the differences that have now become visible after all these years. It is Cox’s opinion that the ability to speak kindly to one another, respect one another and to work together is the only way to effectively run a board.

Three fire chiefs have come since Cox first took his seat, and although he remembers the current chief, Ben Mickuleit being very young, right out of school, he describes him as a true fighter, one who is honest, kind and caring.

“He’s a good man and all his staff are the same way,” said Cox of Fire Chief Mickuleit.

He described the time he spent serving as “more than just fun to watch the community and the board come together and grow.”

Although he said you cannot possibly please everyone all the time, he’s found the majority of citizens on Pine Island to be good people who not only realize, but value the protection the Fire Control Board offers, with benefits such as having access to ambulance service, and paramedics who can get to them within minutes of placing an emergency call.

“To watch these firefighters put so much love and concern into this community is probably the reason I stayed on as long as I did,” said Cox. “It’s just amazing to see a plan come together — to see people do things and fix things and not turn around and brag about it. That’s as important as anything else I’ve seen.”

Cox said he can only hope that he’s done the community some good by having served all these years, adding that it’s truly been his pleasure. He would like to convey to the community that they should always be concerned about what the fire district does, asking themselves questions about whether to donate time or money to help. These, he said, are questions that can only be asked and answered by those who live here.

“Firefighters make a good living, but they deserve a good living,” said Cox. “It’s important for the public to understand their commitment, and that it takes more than just a commitment of wanting the job, it takes kindness and concern for your neighbors.”